Terii’s Cycling Babble


Winding Up May
May 31, 2013, 3:07 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Given its poor beginnings, this month hasn’t turned out as badly as expected. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I only had 3 rides to show for May as of the 15th. As of right now, it’s 11 and I might add a 12th. But, on to the ride descriptions I do have thus far.

Långsjön (Long Lake)

Långsjön (Long Lake) – March 2013

After 2 days of recovery for Loke’s feet, we went out for 8.6 miles on May 23rd. Not much, just roughly the River Loop, but since Jens had taken the train, I decided to go someplace else. When we still had snow on the fields, Loke and I did a loop around the lake near Björklinge. The name of the lake is Långsjön (Long Lake). That was the ride where we discovered washer fluid had spilled in the back of the car and I actually rode home, the latter half without Loke. Some place different from the River Loop and a chance to update a few of my photos now that there aren’t 10 foot mounds of plowed snow all over the place.

Björklinge Kyrka - 2011

Björklinge Kyrka – 2011

Loke was in a fever pitch of excitement as I made the drive north. I don’t think he even sat down the entire time. Just shifted from window to window or vulture-d over my shoulder like Snoopy in the Peanuts comics.

The Björklinge’s parking lot was empty and the environs calm. I tethered Loke to a picnic table where he watched anxiously while I assembled everything. In short order we were off.

Loke didn’t get to fly like the husky he is thanks to some fairly steep hills at the start of the ride. It wasn’t until we crossed the old E4 and shot down a long slope of road running parallel with the lake shore.

By Långsjön - May

By Långsjön – May 2013

It was a fairly cool start to the day, so most of Loke’s tongue flopping was husky grinning rather than panting to cool down. The sky was thick with puffs of drifting clouds which helped additionally temper the heat of the sun.

The scenery practically glowed in the strong light of the May morning. The vivid greens of grass and trees highlighted by the even brighter hues of huge swathes of dandelions taking over fields. Such a change from the snowy white and grays of March. It was one of those days and times of the year where I can’t help but smile as we race along at the beginning of a ride.

Just Random Scenery

Just Random Scenery

Trike and dog powered along, as we reveled in the freedom of being out and doing what we both love to do. I felt good. Pain free and strong as I pushed the pedals to propel us forward until I heard the tether jingle against Loke’s harness meaning he was no longer dragging me.

Sätuna Manor

Sätuna Manor

Around mile 2, we were already passing under the shade of the old trees that line the lane leading up to Sätuna Manor, lush and green. Best of all, it was free of the eye-sores created by mounds of dirty mounds of snow. The trees and clipped grass around the house made a lush frame and backdrop.

I didn’t go up into the main courtyard area of the house with the flanking wings as it looked more like a private residence than a tourist locale. Besides, where I shot the photo from, the trees to the right of the little drive leading up to the door hid a car. Unless its an antique car, a Rolls Royce or something equally spectacular, I’d rather leave it out if I can.

A half mile past the manor came the turn which took us onto a 2.5 mile stretch of dirt road. So far this year, that area hasn’t yet been grated, so the surface which was flat packed in March remained hard and nearly smooth. The exception was a few stones which were small and thinly scattered enough they didn’t slow the trike nor bothered Loke’s soft feet.

Plowed earth hidden beneath shoots.

Plowed earth hidden beneath shoots.

Just Love It!

Just Love It!

It was also lovely to see what was likely freshly raked dirt just a week before was now softly blushing with shoots of pale green crops. Wheat if I had to guess. It’s still thin enough that the dingy gray ground is clearly visible from close up, but once you’re a few yards away it’s just green.

Though it had started cool, it warmed quick. Before the first half hour of the ride passed, my yellow windbreaker had been stuffed into the pod bags. Within 45 minutes, I was wetting Loke’s ears as his tongue seemed to grow longer from a doggie smile to a pant to cool off. It never became so hot that I felt the desperate need to stop in the shade for him. I did it any way, particularly in areas that he seemed curious to sniff.

Blooming Apple Trees

Blooming Apple Trees

Though warm, Loke was an unstoppable machine as he ticked along between 7.5 and 8.5 mph. He pulled hard up the slopes that slowed me, loped cheerfully down the negative grades and powered on the flats. Seeing him so fit, strong and healthy makes me smile.

Loke was quite disappointed when we coasted to a stop back where we’d started. He sat mournfully in the grass under a shady tree, watching as I put everything back in the car. Once we were on our way back home, he settled down quickly enough with eyes closed in enjoyment of the gusts of wind blasting through the open windows.

The next 2 days, I was feeling a bit under the weather so we rested and I worked on some socks, hoping for a long ride over the weekend. I also plotted a balloon loop in the area west of Örsundsbro beginning at the same parking lot I started the last time I rode in the area. 26+ miles with a number of runestones to be collected and all of them were at roadside or in churches or their yards. No field stomping.

On Sunday morning, May 26th, I posted to my FB wall about getting ready for a ride. One of my Swedish friends commented that it was incredibly windy around where she lived a bit south and west of Uppsala. I replied it was windy in Uppsala too, but if I tried to wait for a calm day, I might be waiting the rest of the year.

The start was a bit later than I’d planned for various reasons, but we were at the familiar parking lot around noonish. The day had started clear and cool, but clouds were scuttling in as I readied the trike. By the time I turned on the Garmin, some were heavy enough that Jens mentioned some looked like rain though there was still quite a bit of sun.

Pretty!

Pretty!

Loke had stood quietly until I sat down and clipped in. Then he gave a few soft yodels until he heard the ratcheting sound of the parking break releasing. We were off with that brisk wind at our backs. We whipped through turns as we went the opposite way as we’d done last time, heading for Nysätra Road. Even as we made the turn not the road which would take us out of Orsundsbro toward Nysätra Church where we’d stopped last time, I saw my first 3 road cyclists. I felt for them, fighting the wind as they were. I knew my turn would be coming for it too.

By the time I reached the first runestone of the day less than 2 miles from where we’d started, more than 50 had passed me, all powering toward Orsundsbro or beyond. Clearly, some kind of ride or race was happening though none of the Lycra clad cyclists wore numbers.

Uppland Runestone #873

Uppland Runestone #873

Uppland Runestone #373 stood at roadside just across the dry ditch and tucked among scrubby trees. Another 5 or 6 cyclists whizzed passed as I hurried across the road to climb the ditch for a close photo.

Riding on, the stream of cyclists was almost constant. The first group of 20-30, all dressed in like colors and helms which came through surprised me. Many smiles, thumbs up and cheery waves. Just a few minutes after them, came yet another mass of riders, dressed in different colors with more friendly greetings. That was followed by still another big group, again, identically dressed in yet different colors than the previous two.

Definitely not a typical day for that area I’m sure.

Though everyone was dressed like a road cyclist, not all of them were hardcore powerhouses. Some were clearly just riding to enjoy the ride, pedaling along almost leisurely.

Panorama Crazy

Panorama Crazy

Weary Old Barn Slumping With Age

Weary Old Barn Slumping With Age

The first three runestones were within the first three miles. The search for Uppland Runestone #837 proved fruitless. Coordinates and maps placed it in a small field or perhaps tucked back into trees and among natural rocks. I turned off the paved road to park and take a look. My first hope was that the runes had been chiseled into a small, slightly rounded pate of stone sitting among the dandelions. If that was so, the carvings were so weathered they were invisible to the untrained eye. The stroll along the trees offered nothing that leaped out.

Loving The Spring Weather

Loving The Spring Weather

Uppland Runestone #836

Uppland Runestone #836

A weather-beaten, hand painted sign pointed down the little dirt road naming a mill. At the intersection I turned left, away from the next runestone in search of said mill. I didn’t go far though since there were no further signs for it. There was a gorgeous, dandelion strewn view of the small lake and an old bar leaning at precarious angles. After capturing those beautiful images, I turned back toward the farm yard where the next runestone waited.

As always, I felt a bit odd as I pulled to a stop in the farm yard. The paint on the house was much faded and peeling, the porch cluttered with odds-n-bits. There were a few surprise goodies for pictures.

My first attention, as usual, was for the runestone. Uppland Runestone #836. It sat in a grassy spot, shaded by a lovely old tree. Loke sat sighing by the trike, ignoring his water as I walked over for pictures and then moved on to look at the old buggy, an old plow and the barn with half a dozen or so wagon wheels leaning against the stones of the lower part of the wall..

I’d only taken a few steps past the stone when I heard, ‘Woof!’

Loved the stone work on this barn.

Loved the stone work on this barn.

I stopped, the hairs at the nape of my neck prickling as it had been a deep throated bark. A large dog. A country dog, which tend to be more defensive against strange dogs than urban animals. It took a moment for me to spot it since after that one single woof, it had gone silent.

It was either a Swedish Elk Hound or a Norwegian one. The gray and black coat blended with the weathered wood of the house porch to near perfection. It just laid there, watching me back. Then it gave that single bark again. It didn’t seem inclined to get up from the porch. I wondered if it had missed seeing Loke or if it was just so old, all it had the energy for was to give those widely spaced woofs.

I took my pictures from where I stood and then casually turned back to the trike. I sat down, sipped water and waited. Finally the dog put its head back down for sleep and I crept away. Whether he really didn’t care about Loke and me and was just letting his people know someone was about or was too old to make an issue of it, I’m grateful the dog did no more than watch and bark.

Thickening Clouds Across The Lake

Thickening Clouds Across The Lake

It felt like minutes after I left the farm to return to the main road when the fluffy clouds banded together to consume every bit of blue sky. The wind, which had been hard enough to sail us along, rose to impressive intensity. Loke appreciated the break from the sun as I’d been stopping every mile or so to give him water and wetting his ears every other pause.

Momma helping with the flies

Momma helping with the flies

Lunch!

Having Lunch!

 

The first spits of rain hit, but were barely felt thanks to an adorable distraction. In a dandelion studded field, a pair of mares grazed with brown foals flattened in the grass. I coasted softly to a stop, not wanting to alarm the little darlings, but they still scrambled to their feet.

Well, one of them scrambled. The other lurched and swayed. Clearly the colt with the brown mare was a few weeks old at least.

The little filly might have been a few days at best though I’m tempted to say less than two. She was still shaky on her feet and had that skinny, gawkiness that new-born horses have. Too cute, the both of them.

They were only briefly wary before the filly decided it was time for lunch while the colt let his mom’s tail flicks chase away flies.

Långtora Church Under Threatening Skies

Långtora Church Under Threatening Skies

Just passed the foals, I started seeing familiar scenery. Beneath the growing clouds, I could see Långtora Church in the distance. Nysätra Church and our next turn was not far.

I chuckled when I rolled into the back parking lot of Nysätra Church. The wind’s intensity climbed until the tree limbs lashed and hedge shook violently. It was every bit as strong as the last time I’d been there, waiting for Jens to find me. Blessfully, it was much warmer. I had no need of wool, windbreaker or gloves.

I settled Loke comfortably with water before pushing through a break in the shrubbery to look at the dense gray sky in the east. With a sigh, I went back to the trike, expecting that any minute now the downpour would hit. Maybe even a growls of thunder or lightning flashes.

While I made another attempt to find the runestone in Nysätra’s grave yard, I thought I felt a few more spits of rain yet nothing more. I considered calling Jens, but Loke and I had barely covered six miles. Besides, even if the bottom did fall out, it wasn’t that cold and I had an umbrella if I got too chilled and needed to wait on Jens. Wool was packed too!

Thought for sure I'd be drenched

Thought for sure I’d be drenched

The runestone there still eluded me so we pressed on, taking a small road north. It was unpaved, but with a good surface. I wasn’t worried about the density of the stones since I’d put the socks on Loke

Uppland Runestone #835

Uppland Runestone #835

A mile up from the turn, I stopped for the next stone. Uppland Runestone #835. This stone is unusual in that it apparently dates from the Medieval Period instead of Viking age. Beautifully inscribed with a beast and interesting cross, the runes are nonsense. I suppose, it could almost be considered a fake even if it is 700-800 years old. I think I’ve come across a bare handful of ‘false’ stones. This one was the nicest of those few.

On the northward trek, we had an encounter that was both a bit scary and yet I had to laugh as well. While passing a house, I saw it had a few pieces of wire mesh tied across the drive between two sides of a red picket fence. ‘Oh, they have small dogs. I’ll go carefully past up this hill.’

As we edged passed the first fence post, a huge German Shepherd came snarling, full tilt across the yard. My heart went straight into my mouth and I tried to hurry up the hill. If that monster really wanted to get to us, I knew he’d go through that flimsy excuse of a gate like tissue paper… if he didn’t just sail right over it.

All I saw was flashing teeth as he snapped and barked across the yard. Less than 5 yards from the wire, a woman yelled from the house, ‘Loke! Nej!’

The shepherd stopped instantly and, still growling, slunk back toward the house. My Loke gave me a confused look, head down and tail wagging slightly as if asking, ‘What did I do??’

Only once the shepherd was safely away, did I give a nervous giggle at the coincidence.

Österunda Church

Österunda Church

We rattled our way to the next western turn and from there to Österunda Church. I’ve been here before though I only took a photo of the church from the distance. This time, I went up to it, hoping it was unlocked so I could collect the runestone hiding in the porch. Alas, just like Nysätra, it was closed.

Loke and I rested there briefly. He lolled in the grass after drinking his fill while I munched on an apple.

That was when the rain finally began. The few drops landing on me earlier had been just that, a few drops. One here. Three there. This was a light rain, enough to make me fret about pulling the camera out for photos, but hardly enough to keep me damp.

The fuzzy one helped up the hill passed the church’s belfry where a runestone sat. I didn’t stop for it since I’ve already collected and posted it.

As we crested that hill, the landscape took a definite downward tilt. I started to feel guilty. Sitting comfortably while I kept hold of the brakes, coasting and coasting and coasting. Loke had to keep his legs moving. Granted, he was energetic enough to go at a lope, but I still felt bad. Admittedly, there’d been plenty of hills for me to work my legs.

Rain and still beautiful

Rain and still beautiful

Before I was completely overwhelmed by the bad feelings we made the turn for an out-n-back for a runestone. It was up and up. The grade wasn’t too horrible, but enough to slow us to about 4-5 mph as I spun as briskly as I could.

Uppland Runestone #1167

Uppland Runestone #1167

The rain increased as I coasted to a stop next to the Uppland Runestone #1167. It rested on a grassy patch under a small tree. It was a challenge to juggle the umbrella and camera in high winds. Not something I would recommend. The easiest way around the problem would be to take Jens’ point-n-click camera with me. I prefer the Canon, but given a choice between ruining it with rain or using my hubby’s water-proof, shock-resistant one. It takes pretty good photos for what it is.

Of course, the hill I’d pushed my way up was a free-wheeling ride down while Loke trotted and galloped. He seemed to be enjoying it though. With high winds, damp fur and no sun he had plenty of enthusiasm and energy. The negative grade continued as we made the turn south. I think all told it was about 3 miles of coasting with .75 mile of a climb to the previous stone.

Torstuna Church

Torstuna Church

The rain slacked some when I made the turn to Torstuna Church. Sitting next to the church yard gate, I filled Loke’s water dish. A car came from behind with a trailer and parked in front of us. An older couple with a girl of about 12 got out. Smiling and waving, they asked about the trike a bit. They were most interested in Loke though. I invited them to come give him a pat as we talked. When they moved off to tend the grave they came to visit, I got up to take photos.

It was coming up on 6 pm by this time and I was beyond hungry. I thought about calling Jens, but something in me wouldn’t let it happen. Part of it might have been the fact that the heavenly aroma of grilling meat kept swirling around on the frisky wind. Sitting there for 45 minutes or more would have been torture.

I regretted the decision almost immediately when the rain came back, heavier than ever. It was finally enough to make me more than damp. I bordered on soggy. Loke was a huge help there, shaking his coat every few yards to drench my right side.

About a mile on, I nearly went into a coma from pure cuteness. I wasn’t able to get any photos though. The wind was too much for the umbrella and the rain too heavy to risk the camera. Pity, I would have loved photos of a pasture full of a dozen mares, each with a little one in her shadow. Most of them looked quite young though at least a few weeks to a month older than the new baby I’d seen earlier.

Uppland Runestone #838

Uppland Runestone #838

Uppland Runestone #839

Uppland Runestone #839

Making the turn east, into the full force of the wind, I settled in to power through the last 8 miles or so since I thought I was done with runestones. The next church along the way was Nysätra again. At least there was nothing marked on my map.

So, I was quite stunned by a huge stone, almost 8 feet high, appearing at the side of the road. I double checked my maps, but they showed nothing on that stretch. Clearly, I’d been remiss about marking all the stones. There was no placard so no knowing which it was until returning home and checking the database.

Less than 100 yards further on, another stone waited to be found and this one did have a placard. Uppland Runestone #839.

With the daylight fading and the hard blowing air beginning to cool added to being damp, I finally had to pull on my yellow windbreaker. Örsundsbro was still some 6 miles away. Loke still wanted to run and his weight in the harness was a welcome help against the crazy winds.

This time, I didn’t even stop at Nysätra Church, though I did briefly consider making it the pick up point. On the other hand, I wanted to finish a full ‘long’ ride. I pushed on into the beginnings of twilight.

For some time, I’d been hearing the call of nature, but hadn’t been able to answer it. So, when I approached signs indicating a swimming place, I made the turn. There, next to a car barricade to keep vehicles in the parking lot, was a tiny bathroom building. I ran up to it and… locked.

Nice Place to Wait

Nice Place to Wait

Coming to terms with that, I walked down to the lake with Loke. Only when he walked into the water and began lapping at it, did I see the fur monster had managed to lose 2 of his socks which had been there half a mile earlier. Walking back toward the trike, I decided that I was going to end the ride there. It was a much nicer place to wait for the hubby than in the parking lot of a youth center.

'I don't wanna stop!' he says

‘I don’t wanna stop!’ he says

After calling Jens, I walked around the little nature reserve/swim park a bit before sitting down to wait. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled to be stopping. He paced around. He woofed at me. He sighed gustily. He’d lay down and the get back up to pace again a few seconds later. 25 miles and he still wanted to go. Whatta dog!

If I’d known what a headache it would have turned into for Jens to find us, I would have just pushed on the last 1.5 miles to where I began. The coordinates for the GPS have never really failed us, but then I guess the inexactness of inherent in standard car models never had to deal with a small lake when we used them. My poor hubby sounded like he was about to pull his hair out.

Finally, I managed to dig an address for the park out of my Garmin’s functions. That brought Jens right to me. The coordinates had caused the car’s GPS to send him to the south side of the lake while I waited on the north.

It was a cold wait with that wind and it getting darker by the moment. I huddled under the umbrella, not because of rain, but because I held one edge down against the table top to form a wind break.

Just as Jens found me, the heaviest rain of the trip started. It felt so good to get everything back in the car, jump in with the seat heat on high and thaw out. We got back home around 9 pm.

Another 2 days of rest, which I definitely needed even if Loke didn’t, and we went out for a quick River Loop on the 28th. Not much else to say about that one being just 4.77 miles. The absolute basic.

The next day, May 29th, we did the River Loop again. A full one with a little extra this time for a total of 9.03 miles. The only thing that I have to mention about that ride was my Garmin decided to turn itself off sometime during the first few minutes of the ride. Upon seeing a blank screen, I thought I must have simply forgot to turn it on. When I did so, it showed 0.68 miles, so clearly it had been working. It’s not that easy to turn off. Not like a bump to a button can do it. It has to be depressed and held down for several seconds and it takes considerable pressure.

That worried me. In spite of that moment of oddness, it worked perfectly for the rest of the ride. Near as I can tell, I lost about .3 mile.

So, there’s the last of May with the exception of what I ride today (31st). Jens has a plane to catch early this morning, so no walkies for the furry from the hubby. That means a River Loop at least. Though since I have the car, maybe I should find a 10 mile or so loop else where?

I’ll be finishing the month with 120+ miles. More than double last May, though most likely a few miles short of tripling it. I think I’d need 136 miles or so to do that. If not for being sick one week and the trike at the shop for another, I’d have done it. Ah well. Maybe next year!

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Four Days, Four Rides
May 21, 2013, 9:11 am
Filed under: Day Rides
A perfect image of spring

A perfect image of spring

Ah, Spring! It’s in the air. The breezes (gentle or wild) carry the bird song and scents of blooming flowers and mowed grasses. Vibrant greens dotted with color, the vivid yellow of dandelions most predominate. Gentle rains and skies so blue it’s almost painful to look at with the hot sun bearing down.

In spite of my blog silence these past few days, I have been riding. Four rides over the 17th, 19th and 20th.

A Break In the Shade

A Break In the Shade

The 17th, I set out with the intention of doing the Läby/Shopping Center loop and stopping at a small reserve along the way. There’s a burial ground there with a number of standing stones.

Being a clear day, the sun was hot and entering into the latter part of May, the wind had lost the cool, almost chill feel it’s had since the thaw. It wasn’t quite warm enough to be miserable for me though it hovered on the bare edge of being uncomfortable.

For Loke, it was well into the discomfort range. He trotted along under the hammer blows of unrelenting sun, tongue dangling somewhere around his knees.

I kept our pace slow, stopped lots to give Loke water, rest in shade, and drench his ears, muzzle and legs. He doesn’t mind the ears so much, even leaned into me while I rubbed the wet into the fur. The muzzle was more of a bother for him, but wetting his legs seems to drive him completely crazy.

More Flowering Trees

More Flowering Trees

It made a lazy sort of outing.

By the time we turned toward Ströbylund, it had changed. Within a startling short time, clouds rolled in. Thick, dense clumps of leaden gray capped with white like snow peaked mountains floating in the heavens. From darker bellies, many of them trailed streamers of rain.

As we passed through Ströbylund proper, one of those clouds caught us. The rain was cool rather than cold, unusual for Sweden. It refreshed both of us as the air took on the metallic tang of rain on warm asphalt. Loke’s tongue didn’t hang out so far and he quickened the pace in spite of my efforts for moderation.

We passed in and out of sun and rain. By the time we reached the crossing toward the burial ground, I decided to spare Loke the dirt road’s stony surface and we simply turned toward home. The furball had spurts of energy from time to time, pulling into a lope. We finished the ride with 13.01 miles. It was enough to nudge us over 40 miles for the month. Not quite enough to beat last May’s 43.8 miles.

The 18th, Loke and I took a rest day. A chance for the skin on his paws and my legs to recover.

The 19th was a gray day, but warm with a heavy humidity that leaves one feeling rather sluggish and apathetic. Still, I pushed myself out the door for the miles and exercise. Though I didn’t plan on going far, I made certain to take plenty of water for Loke. Just because the sun wasn’t out didn’t mean it wouldn’t be warm for him.

The ride, a River Loop, would have been completely humdrum except for a chance meeting. We had just passed the school when a man came toodling along on a trike, the upright sort with a cargo box in the front. Three young children were piled within. He waved me down and admired my trike. His name was Lars and he’s on the board of directors for the ‘Uppsala Cyckelförening’ which was mentioned in comment on one of my previous posts by a reader.

‘UCF’ is by their words (translated) ‘a politically independent association of cyclists in Uppsala. They want to monitor traffic policy, write proposals and disseminate facts about cycling facilities, and arrange activities.’

Lars mentioned an activity, but was speaking so quickly, I’m not sure where though I think it’s June 15th. The web site hasn’t been updated yet if there is something happening then. I’ll keep an eye on it. He also let me know about the Tuesday and Thursday cycle workshops. We chatted for a bit until Loke started getting bored. Saying farewell, I let Loke go and he went off like his tail was on fire.

The only thing that I did different on the rest of the ride was to head toward the dog yard at the beginning of the Grave Mound trails. It was a bit of a time waste. A Samoyed was in the larger yard. I didn’t want to let Loke go since he seemed aggressive and if Loke extended his nose for a curious sniff, it could well get bitten. That wasn’t the waste of time as the Sammy’s owners came over to leash him, going out another gate. I freed Loke from the leash and he trotted off to sniff, following as I went to the connecting gate to pass into the bigger area.

Loke's brief foray off leash

Loke’s brief foray off leash

We went in and Loke trotted off a bit further, nose down. I sat down at the picnic table. 3 minutes and 39 seconds later (yes, I timed it), Loke was putting his head on my knee, wagging his tail and woofing. I threw a stick. He watched it fly before looking back to me with a foot tapping dance and ‘Woof!’ Sighing, I picked everything up to walk back to the gate. The furball capered, bounced and whirled just in front of my path, clearly delighted to be returning to the trike. Less than 4 minutes.

We finished that day with 8.37 miles. It pushed us comfortably over the 43 miles of last May.

The 20th, Jens was catching an early train and wouldn’t be back home until quite late. That left all of Loke’s bathroom and exercise needs to me. Two consecutive days riding wouldn’t kill me. Especially not having done just a River Loop the day before.

On the way to the station, Jens mentioned the weatherperson had said the day could either be cooler (low 60’s) and cloudy with chance of rain and thunder or sunny and warm (70+ F). It was mostly cloudy when he said it. Softly cool with fluffs of cloud all in shades of silver, pewter and white hanging in the morning sky. I would have headed out for a ride right away, but a headache started building by the time I returned from the station. It was the sort that could cascade into a full-blown migraine if I didn’t work to cut it short. I took pain meds and laid down with a pillow over my head.

Bright, Sunny & Warming

Bright, Sunny & Warming

When I woke about an hour and a half later, I was headache free. The clouds were gone. The sun was dazzling bright in a crystalline blue sky and the temperature was rising quick.

I didn’t really want to do the River Loop again. While putting the trike together, I pondered my options. I settled on the River Loop, but with the Grave Mound stretch at the beginning as it should be dry enough in spite of the rain the night before.

I think Loke was profoundly bored as we set out, heading in the usual direction for the start of the River Loop. He didn’t want to run, but only trot briskly as we set out. After about three quarters of a mile, where we would usually go left, we went right. Furry pointed ears came forward and Loke’s head came up as his jaws gaped in a doggy smile as he leapt forward.

It lasted for the better part of a half mile. We zipped along an unpaved gravel path until following a sharp curve up to the cycle path adjoining Vattholma Road. Then Loke’s enthusiasm faded and he just went along sluggishly, utterly disinterested.

The mounds were thick with people. Children of all ages running around in what must have been field-trip day for most Uppsala schools. Joggers all over the place. People walking and biking over every inch of space. It wasn’t any better on the paved paths of the River Loop. It looked more like a weekend than a Monday. I think most of Uppsala must have played hooky.

It warmed up quick during the first 40 minutes of the slow ride. By the time we reached the grave mound paths, I was offering water frequently and wetting ears. Loke was more willing to run there, but the heat slowed him too. Since we were passing by the dog yard, I stopped there again, but it held Loke’s interest even less. I tried playing with him, having brought his squeaky monkey toy.

That offered mixed results. While it was in my hand, he was tense and ready to chase. Off it would sail with Loke in its shadow. It would squeak with the impact and… Loke would run right over it, some scent having caught his attention. That left me to hike after the monkey. We were in the yard for about 6 minutes before going back to the trike.

Rejoining the standard River Loop, in the temps which had pushed to the mid-70’s in such a short time and with the relentless sun, Loke slowed to a crawl. At times, he went at a walk, about 3 mph. I walk slow what with bad knees, ankles and back, but I think even my ambling pace is faster than that. I didn’t bother adding of the out-n-backs of the River Loop for extra distance. I didn’t feel like poking along for 3 hours.

When we reached home, I was still feeling strong. Though hot for Loke, it didn’t feel too bad to me. Beautiful blue skies and an itch to add mileage. Impulsively, I decided to do the Läby/Shopping Center loop and, if I felt up to it, go collect the runestone and burial ground along the way.

I felt guilty leaving Loke. He didn’t seem to care. After gulping some of the cold, fresh water I refilled his dish with, he flopped down on the floor and panted. I pampered him a little. Dampening a bath towel with cold water in the shower, I coaxed Loke to his feet to give him a rub down. He loves it. You have to start with his face and briskly go down his body. It makes him so happy and when he’s hot, the cold towel revives him. I then spread it on the floor under the ceiling fan on high. With a half scoop of kibble in his food dish, I told him I’d be back and slipped out the door.

I love riding with Loke. He’s great company, offering moments of laughter and smiles while acting as my personal trainer. Yet, there are times when I delight in a fast paced solo ride, particularly on old ground. This was definitely one of them. I grinned as I whipped through turns at speeds and angles which would have either flung Loke off his feet or run over him, sped over the flats at 16 mph longer than the furball would have been able to maintain in the heat. It was thrilling to fly down the hills at speeds in excess of 20 mph.

There were sections where I crept along on the extended up grades. There I missed Loke. Going slow was boring and he might have helped speed things. I felt uncomfortably hot at times. Without any significant wind, the creeping pace left me baking like a buffet roast under hot lamps. It wasn’t making me sick, but a few times I did pull into shady spots just for the feeling of delicious relative coolness.

If it gets much warmer on clear days like this, replacing the riding umbrella for shade breaks when no trees are available might be as good for me as Loke.

Old Stone Bridge & Trees

Old Stone Bridge & Trees

In a short time, I was sitting across from the Shell gas station, waiting for the pedestrian/cycle lights to make the cross over the 55.

Scurrying across the 55, I aimed the trike down the dirt road thick with good sized stones. Unexpectedly, it turned into a wild ride. The downgrade was apparently steeper than it looked. At 17-18 mph, it wasn’t just wild, but rough. One unexpected bump nearly pitched me clean out of the seat. It felt like the my feet clipped into the pedals would have acted like a pivot to cast me face first over the boom if not for a death grip on the steering. That’s a first in 7 years of riding trikes with SPD pedals and shoes. A woman just getting out of a car with a black lab turned to watch my arrival, probably wondering what the laughing screams were all about.

I was actually feeling quite tired by this time. Catching my breath under the wonderful shade of the parking lot, I evaluated if I had enough oomph for a half kilometer or longer stroll. A little sign said .2 km to the stones, but accounting for zig-zagging to look for the runestone or walking to the far end of the burial ground, a conservative estimation of .25 km one way was reasonable.

Tree Surrounded By Standing Stones

Tree Surrounded By Standing Stones

Tired or not, I decided to go. I’ve been putting this spot off for ages. There was a faintly packed trail which was easier going than I anticipated. Some distance ahead, the woman let the lab off leash and the dog bound through the growing grass with the springing enthusiasm only Labradors can express. He leapt through the green like a demented gazelle.

Second Group of Stones with Runestone

Second Group of Stones with Runestone

Uppland Runestone #902

Uppland Runestone #902

It actually felt cooler walking in the sun than riding, which helped raise my energy a little. I didn’t hurry, taking it easy on my weary legs.

I’ve been to the grave field once before. Jens and I drove here to explore and walk with the dog. There wasn’t much to see back then, thanks to chest high grass everywhere and I twisted my ankle before we even reached the tree so hobbled back to the car. Early spring was definitely a better time to come. Best might have been when it was still snowy, but given the amount of snow we had this year, I wouldn’t have come without snow-shoes.

I spotted one triangular shaped stone with a flat face which looked much like a runestone. It wasn’t I found a few moments later.

The tree clothed in spring garb and standing alone in the field except for the stones around it was lovely. I admired it as I strolled, taking photos for merging and as standalone.

I found the runestone tucked along the second cluster of stones just east and a bit south of the tree so I took photos of both the stones as a group and  close-up of the runestone.

A path ran on from the stones into a green hollow of small trees. I thought about following it a little further, but it seemed wiser to use my energy to get home.

Stones & Tree

Stones & Tree

Somehow, the woman and dog were ahead of me as I returned to the trike. I’m not sure how they passed me without being seen. I took a bit of water and dampened my neck before unlocking the trike and getting under way.

Climbing back to the 55 from the parking lot was a lot of work on tired legs thanks to the rocks all over the road.

Back on pavement and heading toward the shopping center, things felt much easier. It allowed me to reclaim the feeling of speed in spite of the wind which had kicked up. It meant harder pedaling, but the breeze was too glorious for me to think about complaining. I relaxed into a light spin for a few minutes as I fluffed sweaty hair off my neck.

A man on roller skis blasted passed with a cheery hello and I responded in kind.

Beyond the shopping center, I cut onto the cycle paths curving through a path of woodland standing like a fortress in a sea of residential complexes. In the cool depths, hidden from the sun by entwined limbs of conifers, I tried to pick up speed and tempo again. The surface of the path hindered me. There were unexpected lumps and dips. They were small enough to be hard to see at speed, but hitting a bump 5 inches high and only 10 inches wide at 15+ mph makes the trike buck like an angry rodeo bull.

The residential area on the other side made up for it and gave me fun, quick turns to whiz through, startling people on foot or bike.

Before I knew it, I was on the lanes and paths of the Field Loop, dodging the sea of humanity determined to be out to enjoy the day. Beside the river beyond the swim hall, the grassy sward was covered with people grilling and sunbathing. The dark water rippled with the canoes and kayaks gliding over it.

I really didn’t enjoy loading the trike back into the car. Better than trying to carry it into the apartment, I knew.

I came in and flopped onto the couch. Loke came over for a bit of a cuddle so he didn’t seem to hold the solo ride against me. Always good.

The 14.5+ miles pushed me over 400 miles for the year. Less than 400 miles to push past 2013’s total. 70 miles for the month so another 14 miles or so will double last May’s. Not bad and easily managed in 10 days. Oh, this post is 175! Not many more to break 200! Awesome.



Slow Start to May
May 17, 2013, 7:21 am
Filed under: Day Rides

May is half over and what do I have to show for it? 3 rides. Ah well.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for riding. The weather has been somewhat uncooperative. Not that I should let it stop me too much, but given that I toyed with the idea of going to the hospital a few times, it did. I managed to drag myself out for 4.98 miles on the 2nd before surrendering myself to being unwell for a few days.

That was hotly followed by taking the trike to Stockholm. The gears were a little sloppy since I’d managed to give the rear derailleur a knock when I got stuck in the watery crack over a frozen puddle during the thaw. I also wanted the cable oilers installed so that last winter’s gear freezing might happen less. Unfortunately, during the spring everyone is buying bikes which need to be assembled or, like me, getting one serviced to hit the ground spinning for the warm weather. So, though I’d called to set up a day for it, the soonest they had still was going to take a week and that was only if I brought it in and left it.

That was my only option really, so it’s what I did… after I spent almost 45 minutes in titanic struggle to change the studded tire for my summer one. That delightful task had me about to rip my hair out. I thought the Trice’s rear wheel was difficult to get on and off?? I should have just let the guys at the shop do it. But then, I need to get used to it or if I ever get a rear flat I’m in serious trouble. That fun was joined by the long drive to Stockholm. It’s roughly 90 km to the shop from our apartment. The first 60-70 breezes by no problem. The last 20-30 is what can take ages, creeping through Stockholm’s insane traffic aggravated by road construction everywhere.

Around 3 pm the following Monday (the 13th) I got the call the trike was done. The plan had been to get it Tuesday, but since Jens was home sick, it was easy enough to jump into the car and set off though I felt a little under-the-whether as well, fighting the cold my hubby had.

The cycle shop was a mad-house. Packed to the rafters with people, the tiny parking lot crammed with cars, men and children doing loops on bikes in what little space remained. So, when the guy who checked me out asked if I wanted to test ride it, I told him I’m sure it was fine.

*sigh* It wasn’t as I found out on the 14th. The gears bounced around like one of those super balls loosed from a sling shot. As close to being unride-able as it could be yet still move via pedal power. We did 5.88 miles, but that was mostly because Loke did 75% of the work. He’s been going crazy and turning into a huge pest with so little exercise. Jens sick, me without the trike and sick too. He’s even been harassing us at night and at 3 am a few times. So, bad gears or not, I was hoping to get a little peace if the furball got to move.

5.88 miles might as well have been a month of enforced cage rest to him. It just seemed to whet his appetite and left him crazier than before.

I called the shop immediately and explained. Eddie (I think that’s his name) was surprised and extremely apologetic. He knows I’m in Uppsala, so how much an effort it is to reach the shop. He told me when I could get it back in he’d see to it right away. Jens coughed and wheezed his concern about me driving so far while I was feeling less than spritely myself. I wanted to get it over with, so off I went.

Eddie came out as soon as I arrived. We worked on the trike outside, the only space available. He shifted a few times, ‘Loose cable. I’m so sorry!’ It just astounds me that he could tell that from a few shifts. Given that there’s like 3 different places to fiddle with tensions and angles and the like. He loosed it at the derailleur, re-set it and tried it again. Flawless. I plopped down and took a quick spin. Yep. Flawless.

He helped me load the Sprint back into the car and then gave me 20″ and 26″ tubes for free for my inconvenience along a with even more apologies.

Yesterday, I finally planned for a real ride rather than River Loop plodding. The first one of May. A runestone hunt not far to the west and bit south. The unstable weather we’ve been having finally seemed to crystallize into clear skies which made me a little more enthusiastic. Getting the maps done with runestones marked and the like seemed to take forever and I started to stress about the time. Abruptly, Jens offered, ‘I’ll drive you. That way you don’t have to stress about doing a full loop if you’re worried about the time you’ll have before dark.’

I thought that so very sweet and took him up on it. It took a huge weight off particularly since I wasn’t sure how Loke, the trike and I might hold up.

Örsundsbro was only about 25 minutes away. We found a place in town which Google had said was a modern church, but it looked more like a youth center or something. No matter, it had a nice sized parking lot, quiet with lots of space needed for assembling the trike. I pulled everything out of the car straight away for Jens to get back home to nurse his lingering cold and make work calls.

I had just started loading the panniers and putting on the flag when a man walked over, dressed in work clothes.

‘Nice! It looks fun! What’s it called?’ he asked in Swedish.

I answered in Swedish, ‘It is called a ‘recumbent trike’ in English. I don’t know what to call it in Swedish.’

He swapped to English, ‘American?’

We had a nice chat as I readied, mostly about the trike which he seemed quite curious about. How many gears, how much recumbents cost, how fast it could go. Wasn’t the dog a Siberian husky and did he run often or far? What part of the US was I from? When he heard that I’d been in Sweden for 8 years, he went back to speaking Swedish, laughing as we discussed how often and quickly people change to English when they hear me because they want to practice it, one reason my Swedish is still so bad. As I picked up the cycle shoes to swap from the Five Fingers he wished me a good ride and returned to his lawn work.

Loke didn’t yap or yodel, but we were off like a shot as soon as I loosed the brake. His big husky smile and flopping tongue seemed to yell, ‘Freedom!’

We breezed through Örsundsbro beneath a warm sun and faintly cool air. Small as the village is, the countryside soon surrounded us.

Green Trees!

Green Trees!

Spring was all around. A week or so ago, the trees finally burst into leaf. That’s exactly how it seems to happen. One day, the deciduous trees are winter bare, the beginning buds of their leaves only visible when seen closely. Wake up the next and every tree and woody shrub has clothed itself in pale yellow-green over night. It’s as if they hold a count-down and unfurl the leaves in a universal flourish. It makes me smile every year.

Stone Building & Field

Stone Building & Field

As you can see in the photo, the clear blue skies I’d unloaded the trike beneath was being crowded by encroaching clouds. Part of me was a little disappointed. The warm sun had been glorious and the temperature not too hot or too cold for riding. Loke, eternally in his parka, was a bit on the hot side though. Within 10 minutes of starting, I had already wet down his ears and he didn’t mind. He even leaned into me while I massaged the moisture into the fur. For his sake, I wasn’t unhappy to see the clouds though the concern that it might mean rain hovered in the back of my thoughts.

There were tractors everywhere as I took an alternative route toward the location of the first runestone. I had my doubts about being able to find it. The on-line database indicated that it was somewhere on a ridge covered with trees and only a fragment. Hidden like that could mean it hadn’t been maintained at all, so possibly weathered and moss covered while tumbled among unaltered rocks. Add in trees and possible undergrowth, I could probably step over it and never know. Still, I decided I’d make a token effort at least.

The lane I thought would take me under the carriageway of the 55 did nothing of the sort. It turned into a track with the twin dirt tire ruts studded with embedded stones, some as large as my head, separated with a ridge of grass. I discovered with dismay that it went across the carriageway. It seems it must be used as an offical crossing at some point though because the posts and cables that usually separate the lanes had a gap constructed there. Traffic wasn’t heavy, so Loke and I didn’t even have to wait.

We bumped on and soon I made the tentative turn toward the Uppland Runestone #810. It felt a bit intrusive. The gravel path had the feeling of someone’s country driveway, cluttered with old rusting cars, kid’s tricycles, metal barrels and more. I even saw an old wagon wheel, little more than a few rotting wooden spokes ringed with the pitted and flaking iron band which would have held the whole thing together.

I pulled the trike off the path next to the wheel and looked up the gentle hill mantled in trees and bracken. The undergrowth wasn’t too bad, so I locked the trike and set off. Loke was thrilled. He bound joyfully through the trees, sniffing and marking while I zigged and zagged with the print out of the satellite view of the hill and GPS in an attempt to narrow down the location. No luck. None of the rocks there leaped out yelling, ‘I’m a runestone!’

Bumping down the dirt road toward the first medieval church of the day gave Loke a few moments of excitement. He missed one episode though. I’d stopped to give him a little water to wash dust down raised by the tractor raking the field next to us. He lapped a little and then started sniffing furiously in the grass. Right then, only about 50 feet away, a hare jumped out of the ditch and streaked off across the freshly turned dirt. Loke never saw it.

The furball looked up when I laughed and then turned away. Something caught his attention. I saw nothing as I took a few swallows of water, but Loke was intensity personified.  As soon as the trike started forward, a second hare about 100 feet further down, broke from cover. Instead of haring (haha) across the field like the first one, it zipped down the road. Loke pulled like mad, me laughing as I steered to avoid the worst rocks, while the hare zig-zagged along for over 100 yards before finally cutting sharply right. Each bound he made left little puffs of dust.

Fröslunda Church

Fröslunda Church

The mad race after the bunny energized Loke into a lope he was happy to maintain, so I thumped along. It definitely shorted the time to Fröslunda Church.

This church is an ‘old acquaintance’ as it were. Way back from my first few posts as a matter of fact. Back then, I’d only stopped for a minute or so to snap a sloppy picture with my small point-n-click before pedaling on. This time I was going to stop. Coming from the south this time instead of the west was perfect. A small gravel drive led to a large parking area ringed with grass where I could comfortably leave Loke with the trike and a bowl of water.

No luck with Uppland’s Runestones #806 & #807 either. #806 is a small fragment which I think is hiding somewhere in the churchyard. It remained hidden in spite of the two careful loops I made, once close around the church and the next closer to the stone wall where it might have been embedded. It’s so small a piece the translation is only a few letters, not even a full word. #807, also a small fragment with ‘his’ and most of another word which might be ‘soul’, but it was hidden in the porch of the church. Locked of course. Ah well. The day’s runestone hunt was not beginning well.

Can't remember slopes like this since Cornwall. :P

Can’t remember slopes like this since Cornwall. 😛

Returning to paved roads was blissful. The Sprint’s wheels hummed along, Loke’s paws clicked on the pavement as he loped with his tether squeaking cheerfully. Well, that’s what happened on the rare moments I wasn’t chewing up hills any way. I felt a bit peeved that my legs seemed weak. Granted, there did seem to be quite a bit of up, but I didn’t think quite enough to explain how I felt. Then I looked at my Garmin’s altitude graph.

It says I’ve only climbed 140 feet total on the ride, but it’s showing nearly 120 feet over a mile there. I’m not all together convinced of its accuracy either. There have been times where I’ve ground my way up a hill and watched ‘Total Ascent’ change by 1. Look back down the hill and I know it’s higher than 1 foot from base to crown. Unless there’s some vague definition about ‘Total Ascent’ I don’t know about. ‘Highest point reached from start of ride’ rather than ‘total distance spent exerting up climbs’? That doesn’t seem right either. I’m riding in a moderately hilly region (compared to pancake flat Mississippi Gulf Coast), nothing mountainous. So I can’t imagine that the rare occasions ‘Total Ascent’ reads 300+, I was sitting nearly as high as the steeples of Uppsala Cathedral somewhere during a 20-30 mile loop. That would be rather obvious, I think.

Green! Green, I say!

Green! Green, I say!

But even pushing along, ever upward, I was still enjoying the day. There was no rain and the gray clouds couldn’t detract from the beauty of spring green leaves and the small white flowers that seemed to be everywhere. Loke was beside me, strong and healthy.

I really liked this pine tree

I really liked this pine tree

After the incident where he gobbled up cereal, he did actually have an episode with infection between his toes 4 days after his snack. Did I mention that? I can’t remember, but didn’t see any word of it glancing back over the last couple posts. I caught it early since I was looking for it so no real harm done other than torturing the furball with the iodine scrubbing and ointment. He also started developing an infection in his ears a couple days after that, but I quickly stomped on that as well. If ever proof was needed that grains trigger Loke’s immune system crashes, there it was.

Thar be grouse on that thar hill

Thar be grouse on that thar hill

About an hour and a half had passed since Jens had dropped me off. I stopped to make a check-in call and water Loke. As I pulled the iPhone out of the handlebar bag, I heard a very strange and distinctive noise. A sort of cross between someone trying to slam a car into a wrong gear at high speed combined with a chicken’s cluck and odd resonance thrown in. It came from a hill across a pasture with hummocks of grass, bracken and a few scraggly pines. I recognized the sound from watching a near endless parade of nature shows. Grouse.

I could have been mistaken as I didn’t think grouse lived in the area. I called Jens and after the ‘We’re fine’, I asked, ‘Do grouse live in this area?’ My hubby answered yes. They aren’t very common and rarely seen, but they are around. So, it seemed I was probably correct. As I put the phone away, I heard the call again. Then from a near identical hill across the road and another pasture, came an answer. The place was positively rife with grouse!

Uppland's Runestone #808

Uppland’s Runestone #808

From Grouse Hills it was a nice glide on a downgrade. Most welcome. It also took me to the first successfully located runestone of the day! Uppsala Runestone #808.

The stone is hard to miss. It sits at the road edge and this is the picture from the first time I found it. The light was better then. Years have changed the ground it sits more than I expected. A bunch of scrubby brush has been allowed to crowd it. Could hardly see the standing stone behind it and the one to the left of the frame was completely obscured by tangled, twiggy branches. Only a vague outline hinted that it was there. The paint on the carving was bright and fresh though!

I kept a close watch on the clouds while the miles passed. They didn’t intensify though the cover was solid enough the sun rarely made an appearance. Loke was more comfortable, wanting less water and moving faster. As long as it didn’t rain, I had no complaints.

Through the trees

Through the trees

Along the distance between the runestone and the next church, the scenery closed in. Fields were replaced with a patch of forest. A nice change. Wide stretches of gray dirt gets tedious after a time, even when surrounded by trees in the first blush of spring.

Loke, Sprint 26 & Wonky Buildings

Loke, Sprint 26 & Wonky Buildings

Långtora Church was in easy view when I came on a collection of old buildings which caught my curiosity. The gravel track to and between them didn’t really have the feel of a driveway, so I took it. I found no descriptive signs around them, so no idea of their age. Quite old though, if the way some of them stand out-of-kilter is any indication.

Långtora Kyrka

Långtora Kyrka

Arriving at Långtora, I pedaled around a thick hedge where a pair of picnic tables sat. Nice lush grass, recently mowed, made a good spot to tether Loke near his water dish. If nothing else, a comfy spot for him to lay down while I did my stroll.

Uppland's Runestone #800

Uppland’s Runestone #800

It’s been a long time since I’d been here. I began a ride here once back in the first couple months of beginning to blog my rides. I had no idea a pair of runestones crouched to either side of the porch door of the church. Back then, I didn’t actively look for runestones, not more than glancing around as I pedaled or stood outside the low stone walls of churchyards photographing the lovely medieval buildings. If they didn’t leap out at me from the roadside, I didn’t find them.

Uppsala Runestone #802

Uppsala Runestone #802

I think blogging changed that. It gives me a way to better ‘catalog’ the runestones I find. And the churchs, burial grounds, castles, ruins. The history I pedal across. I really have learned a surprising amount of history and I love it. Obviously or I wouldn’t have started walking around churches quite so much to look for them or trek across open fields. Granted, field stomping began just this year in earnest.

There are two more runestones in the porch of the church, sadly locked. Uppland Runestone #799 is set into the porch floor, I think, as the inscription translated on the on-line database reads, ‘Thomas lies under this stone. Ulfheoinn wards him (ie made the gravestone). Johan of Brunnar, he carved these runes.’ I would have liked to see that one. It would have been the first runestone I’ve come across dating from the 1200’s instead of 900-1100 AD as most of them seem to.

It strikes me odd how the time of runestones was so brief. A scant 200 years or so. Maybe it feels strange simply because of how enduring the stones have been though the creation period was short.

The other runestone is cataloged as ‘U Fv1955;222’. So, it was found in 1955 if I had to guess. It appears to have no inscription, just ornamental design described as a ‘ship, man figure and a cross’. That one would have been interesting as well.

I went back to Loke who was wallowing around in the grass. He stood up and wagged his tail when he saw me. He wouldn’t have if he’d known what was coming. Socks! I tempered the torment of putting them on him with tasty (to him) bits of duck jerky. The furball will put up with just about anything if it involves a treat.

Uppland's Runestones #801

Uppland’s Runestones #801

I’ve noticed that since his surgery, Loke’s front feet seem to have gotten a bit… thicker. The sock pattern which I’d finally tailored to fit him well now seem to be a bit on the small side. They don’t bother him once they’re in place, but it’s more difficult to wrestle them on. I may have to change the pattern by a quarter inch or so.

Before setting out again, I took a moment to look at my maps. Glad I did or I would have missed Uppland Runestone #801! It was back near the place of the crooked buildings which turns out to be Långtora Church’s vicarage.

Loke ran down the stone-strewn lane from Långtora Chruch back to the paved road more briskly thanks to the socks. He was a little confused when I turned us back the way we’d come and then up and around the vicarage drive again.

I found Uppland Runestone #801, though I was hesitant to identify it as such. I’m used to the stones being fairly ragged looking, irregular edges and lumpy surfaces even where ‘smoothed’ for the inscription. This one was right angles all around except for a little weathering at the corners. On the database, it says ‘date unspecified’, so maybe this one is from a later period given how finally dressed the rock is. Perhaps it dates from the 1200’s like U #799?

The next runestone was a short hop away. At least the place to stop for it was. I was parking the trike in a patch of packed grass to corner of where a barn’s driveway and dirt road met in less than 4 minutes from leaving the vicarage.

Way over there! Zoomed in photo btw.

Way over there! Zoomed in photo btw.

Across a freshly raked field, I could easily see my goal. It stood proudly on a tiny patch of grass surrounded by a sea of dusty gray earth. The clouds the tractors had been stirring up made me confident the field wasn’t going to be muddy so I made the change to my Five Finger shoes for the walk. Loke was so excited when I put him on the leash. I think he was expecting another fun, tree-tangled walk like the first runestone stop.

His disappointment was almost comical. As I walked down tractor access to the field, he bounced and romped, wallowing in the grass, sniffing and marking. Then he frolicked out into the open, swerved sharply to the left toward the grassy field edge until the leash yanked him short. I tugged, but nothing happened so I looked back.

From the full 8 meter length of the leash, Loke looked from the barren field to me, then to the trees and grass with a hopeful tail-wag. ‘Come on!’ I told him.

He stared at me a moment longer and then across the field, his tail slowly drooped. I couldn’t help but laugh. With the decent of that white plume of fur, my mind supplied a kid’s disappointed, ‘Awwww!’ as if finding out they’re having brussel sprouts for dinner instead of pizza. Sighing, head slightly down he started walking toward me.

The fuzzy one made no bones about how boring he found the field. He didn’t so much as sniff a chunk of dirt. I took the walk slow as the terrain was a little difficult, so he’d stop from time to time to stare off longingly at distant greenery. I can’t recall Loke ever being that apathetic about a walk.

Uppland Runestone #803

Uppland Runestone #803

By the time we were close enough to Uppland Runestone #803 that he could reach it at the end of his leash, Loke bolted for it. He rolled and thrashed in the narrow band of grass, he ran a sniffing circle around the rock and then went back the other way when the leash pulled tight. He was so happy to have something (anything!) to sniff and mark.

The stone was quite weathered and the lichen and moss hid most of worn carvings on its surface. I could only see a faint shadow of them toward the bottom. I took my picture and let Loke amuse himself in the grass, giving the stone an affectionate pat.

When plotting on a map where the stones are to be found, I’ve learned to take care and read the database entries. Sometimes the stones have been moved to museums which would make looking for them futile. Apparently, this one is in ‘place of origin’. I liked that. The idea that for 1000 years, this stone some man had arrogantly put up in his own memory, might have faced the changing world, standing strong just as it had been erected with freshly carved runes. It might be weathered and showing its age with a patina of lichen, yet Ulv’s name is still known even if nothing else about the man is. He got what he wanted, near immortality of his name.

I was glad I’d put the socks on Loke when I did. The road we’d taken after leaving the vicarage the second time was well strewn with rocks. Loke would have ended up with stone bruises no matter what part of the road I cycled on. Not even the grassy verge was clear of them.

More Spring Scenery

More Spring Scenery

Gotta Love Country Roads

Gotta Love Country Roads

But thanks to the socks, we were able to keep a pretty good clip even if it threatened to rattle my teeth from their sockets. I never knew how much a little round knob of rubber behind the seat of my Trice helped ‘suspend’ bumps until getting the hardtail Sprint. In spite of that, the Sprint is wonderful for it’s ability to keep the derailleur from harm.

Ambling along, I’d just spotted a cluster of buildings tucked between road and trees and identified them as a glider plane ‘club house’, when the third hare of the day jumped into view. Like most of them, it too took off down the road and Loke leapt into pursuit. I braced myself for the hard jolts and kept an eye on Loke’s socks to make sure he didn’t pull them off his feet. He was dragging that powerfully. Finally the long-eared critter cut left, leaping high and long to clear the slope and small ditch between road and a freshly raked field. I’m glad I expected it to go for the open ground where it could use speed to advantage instead of trees and thickets for cover. Otherwise, Loke would have been stomping all over my legs and torso. I had a hand out to block him, kept us going straight down the rocky road though he craned his neck after the hare.

During the rough ride on the dirt road, the gray began to break up. Sunlight streaming through the openings in cloud cover became more frequent as did the views of blue skies. It was roughly 4 pm by that time so the sun didn’t feel quite so hot and Loke’s interest in water remained brief with each offering. I felt no need to keep his ears dampened.

Uppland Runestone #804

Uppland Runestone #804

As tired as I was getting from the hard going over the stones, the sunshine helped raise my spirits and energy. Finding the next runestone was an even bigger help.

Uppland Runestone #804 was huge. I found online info which states it stands 4 meters high (over 12 feet) and weighs 11 metric tons making it much bigger than the 9+ foot tall U #455 I found on the ride around Odensala at the end of April. Somehow though, U #455 seemed much more impressive. Maybe it’s because that one was so much narrower and almost precarious.

Loke stayed with the trike while I went the short distance to a better position for the picture. Then we rattled on.

Not even a quarter mile past the U #804, I ran into a bit of difficulty. A cluster of buildings off to the left had quite a few men walking around and socializing. Further beyond were the shapes of gliders. It seems the club had been flying and was just starting to wrap up for the day.

My attention that direction was only passing. The way straight ahead concerned me more. It didn’t look hopeful. The road essentially vanished. There was a road boom across a rough track of packed grass with the wood from a cut tree stacked. I stood up from the seat to look at the situation. It appeared that with care, I could work the trike under the boom and had enough space between ditch and wood pile to squeeze the trike by. With the 26 ” wheel, I wasn’t too worried about the grass.

Before I could start, a man’s voice said in Swedish that he didn’t think I could go through. I looked at the man, in his 60’s white haired wearing a brown jacket and cap as he closed the distance between us. I asked if it was forbidden, but he answered there was a large gravel mound just out of sight. He advised that I walk down there to look first.

Respecting his knowledge, I did just that, with Loke happy to go along and sniff. Glad I did. The path came out at the back of a house which appears to be either recently abandoned or under-going renovations so extensively that no one’s currently in residence. Or it would have except for a huge pile of stone that went across the way from ditch to ditch, both full of water. One side sort of flattened a bit and I would have been able to drag the trike over it except it was mostly blocked by a piece of rusting equipment. That one heavy piece of metal turned the way into a dead end for me.

A No-Go

A No-Go

I went back to the trike. The man was waiting and asked if I could get through. I shook my head. He asked if I had maps and pointed out a route which would add roughly 5 miles, maybe 6. Two of those miles or more were back over the rough gravel… uphill. When I managed to unhappily communicate that it was back the way I came and I didn’t know if I had the strength for an extra 10 km, he stared off toward the buildings and field of the glider landing strip. I contemplated ending the ride and waiting there for Jens.

I was pulling out my iPhone when he said he thought there might be another way. The ground of the landing strip was flat and well packed, the grass very short. He thought the far end of the pasture next to it had fencing sections removed so maybe I could ride the strip and get back to the road through pasture. He offered that we could go take a look in his truck.

Maybe Sweden has made me more trusting, but I accepted.

I was encouraged by what we found. The strip was as the man described. The pasture, naturally was less firmly packed and the grass already thick, lush and unmowed, but still manageable with the Sprint. The Trice’s idler would have been choked with it within 10 feet, but not the Sprint. Would it be easy? Probably not. Grass is second only to clay/mud or sand for bad rolling resistance, even when short. But better a quarter mile of hard going with no added miles then 2+ miles barely better hard pedaling which would add 5-6 miles.

Tiny Gliders!

Tiny Gliders!

I thanked the man and wished him a nice evening as I set out. The last of the clouds were vanishing, remaining only as tatters on the horizon. Some of the other men lingering at the landing strip gave me startled looks as I rolled down the driveway and out onto the grass. I paused for photos before passing the covered gliders parked for the evening. I knew gliders were small, but seeing them on TV or drifting around several hundred feet up in the air doesn’t really give you the full sense of how tiny. I’m not generally claustrophobic, but I think cramming myself into one of those cockpits would make me so.

Completely off road.

Completely off road.

Even in my lowest gear, it was still tiring. It would have been more so except Loke was delighted with the stretches of open grass around him. He threw his weight into the harness and happily pulled us along faster than the 2 mph plod I could have managed on my own.

Even with Loke’s enthusiastic assistance, the pasture ground slowed us to a bare crawl as I worked to spare my knees. I used the tire tracks the man’s truck had left to make it a little easier.

My relief at regaining the road was short lived. It was the worst of the ones I’d ridden that day. One of the top five bad roads I’ve ever inflicted myself with on a trike. I’m sure somewhere beneath the jagged, jumbled nuggets of granite, many of them the size of chicken eggs, there was dirt, but it was not to be seen. Even with Loke’s socks, I wouldn’t have wanted to go faster than a walking pace… as if I could. Trotting or, heaven-forbid, running would have left terrible stone bruises on him. As it was, I still stayed far to the right, trying to keep him on grass and weeds as much as I could.

It was a bit over a mile of torture before I reached paved road again. Loke and I both were so happy to see it. As soon as we turned onto it, Loke jumped into a strong run of almost 16 mph. He wanted to fly! The charge was short lived when I saw someone on a horse in the distance. They were riding along the edge of a field and turned toward us. I slowed down and then stopped, not wanting to spook the horse. Loke was a bit peeved and even tried pawing at me to get us moving again.

The horse was a gorgeous little Islandic, so dark a brown he bordered on black. His fluffy poof of a mane and forelock fluttered and waved in the wind as he came along at the brisk tolt gait the breed is known for. The rider, a women, slowed him to a walk so he had time to get used to our appearance before coming up to us. Smiling, she thanked us for our care and moved out again at that fast, smooth-as-silk pace only an Islandic can do. Granted there are other breeds with a similar special gait, the Paso Fino, Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking Horse, but I’ve never seen those.

Once the horse was firmly passed, I loosed the brake and we were off. This time, I didn’t hold Loke back and we charged down a mild slope, over a bridge, back up another gentle grade before slowing to make the turn into Nysätra Church.

Nysätra Church

Nysätra Church

I’ve been to this church before, though on a different ride than the one I started from Långtora Church. As a matter of fact, I paused here for a lunch break on my first attempt at a tour years ago.

I pried myself out of the seat, my legs aching and weak as over-cooked noodles. Leaving Loke tethered to hedge with water, I hobbled around in my search for one of the two runestones. The other was locked in the porch, of course.

It turned out to be an exercise in futility. It’s supposed to be on the southern side of the churchyard and I walked back and forth through that whole area several times. I even looked behind the other buildings and clear to the edge of the field. I did find several old grave makers with little signs declaring them ‘cultural graves’, but they were all too worn to make out names or dates.

When I gave up and started back to the trike, I noticed the wind. It had been quite brisk when I’d met the horse, but during the 15-20 minutes of my runestone search around the church, it really kicked loose. It shook the hedge where Loke waited, it whipped tree limbs. It came hurtling out of the east, the direction back to Örsundsbro. 5 miles into the fury if I didn’t go west for an out-and-back for 2 other runestones which would have made it 7 or 8 miles back to where I started.

I couldn’t do it. I was spent. The hard work over the rock cluttered back roads coupled with nearly 2 full weeks of no rides had worn me down to tatters. I could have headed west with the wind at my back to get those extra stones, but the church was a nicer place to wait for the hubby than a roadside. I filled Loke’s water dish to the brim, called Jens and then pulled out my heavy wool thermal top and mittens.

Yes, wool top and mittens. The hard wind was bitterly cold and the sun too low at 6:00 pm to counter the chill. As I stripped off his harness, Loke was clearly disappointed. 16.3 miles wasn’t enough for him. He sighed and woofed at me a few times before laying down next to his water.

As tiring as it was, I still enjoyed the ride. The spring kissed scenery was worth it and it felt wonderful to get some miles in. It was also nice to have a peaceful evening at home. He might not have been completely tired out, but Loke wasn’t so bubbling over with energy he was a PITA either. He even let us sleep past 3 am.



Mad Dash
May 16, 2013, 3:48 am
Filed under: Day Rides

30 miles. That’s what I needed to make April’s goal. That felt like a lot when I woke up on April 28th. It didn’t help I was wary of my knee, but the yearning to succeed pulled and tugged. Whatever I did, Loke was going to stay home. His paw pads were looking a worn from Saturday’s ride and no new socks to replace the ones he’d managed to shake off.

When I’d planned the ride around Odensala, I’d considered doing Gripsholm Castle on Sunday any way. I mean, I should be able to do 15-16 mile rides for two consecutive days. When finishing Odensala, I wasn’t quite so sure, but after a night’s sleep (note, I don’t say it was good) it felt feasible. I even went so far as to call my sister-in-law to see if she wanted to go as we’d planned and, since I wouldn’t be taking Loke, we could explore the interior of the castle together. Then I’d ride while she enjoyed Marifred. She begged off having had a late Saturday night and she planned to nap the day away. Fair enough.

I didn’t feel right going without her after having made the invitation and didn’t have the enthusiasm at the moment to figure out another place. It would just have to be one of my old routes. Börje, I decided.

Jens and I planned our deception carefully. A few minutes after he left to take Loke on a long walk, I dressed in my cycle clothes and bolted out to the car to assemble the trike. Success! Out for a ride and the furball none the wiser!

Warmer than it had been the day before, I wore just my single summer layer. Only my podbags weighed me down rather than the panniers as well. More wasn’t needed as Loke wasn’t along to need more water, I was planning on going somewhat faster and at most, I was going to stop at 1 church to properly collect a pair of runestones I’ve been riding past all these years.

As I zipped past the school at speeds slower than Loke would have been dragging me for the crazy first mile, I was thrilled to find the path under the trees had been swept. Most of the first half of the River Loop paths had been swept. My knee felt okay so I pushed on a bit faster, tearing along the narrow paths at over 12 mph. The Trice could have gone faster with the larger gear inches, but the Sprint was fast enough to make me smile.

Admittedly, when I noticed I had the wind at my back, I wondered about the wisdom of the Börje Loop. It seemed more than a little blustery.

Ugh! Gravel & Wind!

Ugh! Gravel & Wind!

Even so, I added the out-n-back along the river. That was less pleasant. That section of pavement had gravel aplenty and coming back toward the main paths meant being somewhat against the wind which proved to be very strong and gusty. The gusts make it worse. A steady wind, you can somewhat get used to, but when a random harder gust slams into you, it’s rather like hitting clay. On impulse, I took the turn which would lead past the recycling center to the 272, which would return me to the turn toward Börje.

That part almost hurt. The gravel was inches deep in spots on the track beside the 272 and I seemed to be dead into the wind. Still, for some reason, I didn’t change my mind. When I get stubborn like that I wonder where it comes from. Glutton for punishment? Or just addicted to overcoming challenges, regardless how small?

Traffic was surprisingly thick for a Sunday before noon. Finally a man in his late 20’s or early 30’s in a black car took pity on me. He stopped to let me cross the off-ramp and then pulled out across part of the 272 before stopping again to let me cross to Gamla Börje Road. We exchanged laughing smiles and waves as I made my way over. That little kindness and friendly exchange warmed the cockles of my heart.

I did my usual creep up that steep hill crouched at the start of Gamla Börje Road. At least it was sheltered from the frolicsome wind. The race down the other side was worth it though. A wide smile pulled at my lips as gravity and pedal power pushed my speed over 20 mph, wind pulling tendrils of hair out of the pony tail while I held on to the brim with one hand.

Out on that road where fields often stretched to one side or both, the wind truly came into its own. Mostly it was to the side, but just enough to the front that it made me work. It turns out the Da Brim’s greatest weakness is side winds. When it wasn’t yanking the helmet up so I felt like I was going to strangle on the chin strap, I worried it was going to peel right off and go tumbling across the plowed dirt.

I’m not sure I’ve ever said it, but I honestly hate cycle helmets. I wear mine religiously and was glad of it when I fish-tailed and rolled the trike last year. But there are times when I just feel like it’s strangling me. Maybe part of it is my weight coupled with the fact that I’m on a recumbent. Strap under the plump chin slightly lowered to the chest because of the reclining position. If I don’t get the helmet seated just right at the precise angle, I feel it when I start breathing faster. It can be even more difficult in cold weather when I wear a thermal with a high neck. Just adds to the feeling of suffocation. So, having the helmet pulling around on me wasn’t helpful.

To be clear, I don’t attribute the difficulties to the Da Brim. I took it off, but it was so windy even my usual ball cap caused the same problem a few times. I blame the insane winds, not the product. Since I had no easy way to carry the Da Brim and wanted to keep my face shaded, I wrestled it back on and continued hanging onto it with one hand or the other.

No gravel... on the road at least!

No gravel… on the road at least!

Other than the wind, being on the road was nice. Recently paved, Gamla Börje Road is still quite smooth and it made for great pedaling even with a studded tire. My pace was pretty brisk, all things considered and I loved those down-grades.

As I approached the crossroads and came racing down that hill at 22 mph, getting shoved around a bit from gusts, I debated my ride. With the River Loop extension I’d added, left would net me about 17 miles, leaving 13 more miles for April’s goal. Right roughly the same. Straight would likely put me around 21. I’d made up my mind as hit the bottom of the slope and streaked through the intersection straight for Börje.

As I pushed through the mile or so between the intersection and Börje Church, it came to me that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually succeeded in riding this loop. Maybe even as much as 2 years. I’m not sure I actually tried it again after taking the tumble at the curve around the church. Realizing that just seemed to stiffen my resolve.

Once I was on the last half-mile to the church the scenery closed in, slacking the wind. As I was making a small climb, a group of road-bikes shot past me, calling out hellos. The first I’d seen that day. I was beginning to wonder if all of them were hiding from the wind.

There’s a bit of a hill leading up to and past the front of Börje Church, so I was doing only about 6 mph. As I crested the climb, three men with touring style bikes stood near the gate to the churchyard. They stared as I picked up speed with the help of gravity and waved vigorously as I shot past. I managed a wave back as I slung around the curve that hugs the stone wall before taking the next sharp turn almost immediately afterwards.

And I was passed the site of the icy accident.

Things flattened for a bit and the wind was once again at my back. I hit almost 15 mph, tires humming softly. The front, smoother ones have a higher almost feminine pitch them them. My larger back tire with the knobs and studs of winter, a deeper throatier sound. If I’d had breath, I probably would have been humming tunelessly along with them.

Another steep climb and then another fun section. The ground again flattens out and then takes a soft hill downward, another very short flat and then a significantly steep hill that I’ve hit speeds of more than 25 mph in the past when I went solo on the loop. This was going to be the first time down it on the Sprint. I was curious to see what I could do with it.

I gently cranked up on the flat and pushed for more on the first negative grade. The 2nd flat was more a matter of maintenance and then came the longer, sharper drop. I pedaled like mad until there was no resistance to pedal against and coasted, laughing in the wind. 26.4 mph. I wonder what I might have gotten with a smoother back tire?

A couple more climbs and fast stretches brought me to the top of the hill where Gamla Gård sits. That’s a collection of old farm buildings the local homeowners restored and maintain. A few of the buildings have been rescued from collapse in other locations, but I think the 1600’s farm house might be original. I decided not to stop there and pushed on.

Beautiful, but I really liked the one without the blanket.

Beautiful, but I really liked the one without the blanket.

Just past the old farm house, I did stop. A pair of horses and one of them was an unusual color, I had to get a picture. I think maybe she would be called a ‘red roan’ or maybe even a ‘strawberry roan’. While I tried to get the pair to cooperate, someone said ‘Hej’ and I looked from the horses just in time to see the three men coast past, waving as they began the long descent.

The roan didn’t seem to like me much though the bay was friendly enough. Every time I tried to get a good position, he kept blocking the frame and trying to slobber on the camera lens. Finally, he got bored and let me get on with the job.

Photo taking, I settled in and mentally ‘strapped in’ for the biggest decent of the ride.

The Hill

The Hill

Don’t let the picture fool you. It starts innocently enough, but after that left hand curve, it takes a turn to the right and drops.

I wondered when I’d chicken out. 27 mph is my best speed on it. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to go faster.

I pushed off, pedaling with as much force and speed as I cared to risk with my knee. I was doing 20 mph when reached the end of the left turn. My helmet jumped around with the flapping brim, but I didn’t dare take my hands off the handles as I plunged past 25 mph. I couldn’t help it, I started fluttering the brakes. Gritting my teeth I watched the very sharp right turn at the bottom of the hill rush at me just as I edged over 26 mph. I whipped around the turn and bumped over the bridge, hoping there was no oncoming traffic.

I’d just hit 27 mph again. It’s that turn at the bottom which gets me every time. It’s tight and sitting at the bottom of the narrow dip the stream has cut in the hills, very blind. I’m always worried about cars coming the other way so don’t want to swing out too wide to compensate for centrifugal force.

Ah well. It’s still fun! I was laughing and breathless as I climbed out of the cut.

The rest of the way home was fairly humdrum, but I still enjoyed the ride. I returned home with just 8 miles short of April’s goal.

Sadly, I didn’t make it. I got out for a ride on the 29th, but it was lackluster. The plan to push it over 8 miles didn’t happen. I was so sick and riding didn’t make me feel better. Insane winds made the going even harder and my legs were quite tired from the day before so I managed only 5.89 miles.

Honestly, by that point I was too sick to care if I fell 1.5 miles short of April.

But, I’m feeling a bit better now so I’ll have to get to work on the next post for yesterday’s ride (May 14th).